Fire department refurbishes living quarters

Published 1:01 am Thursday, February 22, 2018


Natchez — The Natchez Fire Department can live comfortably while on duty thanks to city contributions.

Captain Aaron Wesley said Mayor Darryl Grennell was appalled when he visited the department living quarters shortly after becoming mayor. Grennell didn’t hesitate to make arrangements to fix the issue.

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Wesley said Magnolia Bluff casino gave a generous donation of $90,000 to cover the cost of the new furnishings.

“When he looked at the furniture, he saw it was an embarrassment and thought we should not be living in such conditions,” Wesley said.

Conner Burns, NFD operations manager, said the station is home to firefighters during their shifts, so comfort is very important.

“Firefighters spend 24 hours a day up here,” Burns said. “You don’t get to leave to go eat. You cook here. You sleep here. … New mattresses allow them to sleep well, so when they get called in the middle of the night, they are well rested to respond to the emergency.”

Burns said Darby’s Furniture worked toward making the stations comfortable and welcoming.

“Darby’s was instrumental in finding us quality furniture to replace some of the substandard furniture we had,” Burns said. “What we needed were mattresses and furniture that individuals would be comfortable on and would last a long time.”

Co-owners of Darby’s Furniture, Darby and Dennis Short, said they negotiated with sellers for lower than average buying prices for the replacement furniture.

“We had a fire in 2014 in our main store,” Darby Short said. “The fire department became like our adopted children. At first, they did not have thermal imaging machines. We … donated $5,000 towards the thermal imaging machines and then raised about ($5,000) more.”

Darby’s contributions didn’t end at that point. Grennell came to them for help a little over a year ago.

“He came to me with pictures of chairs that they were sitting in,” Darby Short said. “The chairs that those guys were sitting in were things that people would have thrown out at the dump — with holes in the seat — I mean they were pitiful.”

Dennis Short agreed that the NFD desperately needed refurnishing.

“If you had seen what they were sitting in before,” Dennis Short said. “There was one chair that had one leg on it. There were bricks where the other three legs should be.”

The Shorts found donations to accommodate NFD temporarily as they searched for new chairs, dining tables, beds, desks and ottomans.

NFD was also able to replace televisions, refrigerators and stoves at some stations, and received new mattresses from Webb Furniture.

Burns said there are many more needs the stations have.

“We have a prioritized list,” Burns said. “Our stations are pretty old. We have other needs for the trucks —

for emergency equipment.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, Dennis Short was working with the station to unload and assemble the furniture. He said painting the walls and cabinets is next on the agenda.

“We are grateful, Burns said. “We appreciate everybody caring for the fire department. They really stepped up and helped us a lot.”


Story by Sabrina Simms